Freelance actor Shrey Bhargava – whose Facebook post on his experience auditioning for local film Ah Boys To Men 4 (ABTM4) had gone viral and sparked widespread debate – had been questioned by the police over reports lodged concerning him.
In response to TODAY’s queries, the 21-year-old confirmed that he met with officers at the Tanglin Police Division on Wednesday (May 31) and was questioned on “the intentions behind (his) post”, among other things.
He said: “Yes, I was called by the (police) for questioning. I was informed there that there were police reports made. I was not informed for what or by whom, that was kept confidential.”
Mr Bhargava said the police told him “not to worry about anything as I had done nothing wrong”, but also advised him to “be cautious about what I post online as people may misinterpret me and my intentions to my detriment”. He was also advised to contact the police if hate speech and abusive comments against him worsen.
“The Investigation Officer and I agreed that I am absolutely against racial violence of any sort and, instead, was only seeking a healthy and productive discussion for the betterment of Singapore’s media landscape and society. Specifically, I wanted Singaporeans to engage in dialogue regarding the inclusion of minorities in the media, as well as to tackle the issue of casual racism in order to create a more inclusive and harmonious Singapore,” he said.
ABTM4 will be jointly produced by J Team Productions and MM2 Entertainment, and directed by Jack Neo.
Approached by the media, J Team Productions had issued a statement saying that the casting director was testing Mr Bhargava on his “versatility” as an actor, and had asked him to perform the scene in various ways, including one as a “full blown Indian man”.
However, Mr Bhargava disputed this: “This is not true. I was asked to do the scene only twice. The first time I did without direction. The second time, I did after being given the direction ‘be more Indian’ and to do it again as a ‘full-blown Indian man’… The J Team’s statement has misrepresented the facts… It has painted me in a damaging and deceptive light. It seems as though I over-reacted, or worse, that I lied.”
Contrary to its claims, the J Team had failed to test for versatility, Mr Bhargava argued. “Instead, they defined for me what being Indian ought to mean and that is the crux of the matter… What did they mean by “Be more Indian”? Do they have a premeditated idea of what it means?… And why is being ‘more Indian’ supposed to be ‘funny’,” he questioned.